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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

25 May 2006

U.N. Reforms Resisted by Many Who Pay Little in U.N. Dues

U.S. envoy Bolton tells Senate panel 120 nations oppose reform

By David Anthony Denny
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Needed management reforms in the United Nations are being resisted by more than 120 U.N. members who, collectively, provide relatively little budget support to the institution, Ambassador John Bolton says.

The U.S. representative to the United Nations testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee May 25 on U.N. reform.  Reform efforts, he said, have not yet proven very successful.

The United States, Bolton said, is one of a group of about 50 nations that actively seeks management reform.  This group contributes more than 86.7 percent of the entire U.N. budget.  It is opposed by more than 120 nations who provide only about 12 percent of the budget, he said.  Included in this latter group are many members of the Group of 77 (G-77), whom Bolton said ”are resisting efforts by the Secretariat to reform and streamline basic managerial structures and practices."

The G-77 describes itself as “the largest Third World coalition in the United Nations.” Its stated goal is to give the developing world the ability to articulate and promote its collective economic interests and enhance its negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues in the U.N. system.

Bolton told the committee that the G-77 wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan the week of May 15 "chastising him for issuing reports to the public on his proposals for some reforms he feels [are] necessary." (See related article.)

The U.S. view, in contrast, is that the U.N. Charter designates the secretary-general as the agency's chief administrative officer, and all member states should support his fulfillment of that responsibility.

Nevertheless, Bolton cited some small successes in the reform effort.  Most important was the successful effort in December 2005 to cap spending on the U.N.'s current two-year budget, given lack of progress on the reform effort.  He said the spending cap should be reached in July, and that should allow an evaluation of "progress to date and to determine whether, and in what form, further spending should be authorized."

The creation of a U.N. Peacebuilding Commission and Support Office is another success, though a modest one, Bolton said.  The United States has agreed that this entity should be funded with existing resources.

Consequently, member states created an office that Bolton said comprises  "predominately reprogrammed positions."  Even the few newly created positions, he said, are being funded out of the current budget and therefore require no additional financing.

The full text of Bolton's opening statement is available on the State Department Web site.

More information on the Group of 77 is available on its Web site.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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